Herbs & Plants

Chinese Foxglove (Rehmannia glutinosa)

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Botanical Name :Rehmannia glutinosa
Family : Gesneriaceae/Phrymaceae
Genus : Rehmannia

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Species: R. glutinosa

Synonyms : Rehmannia chinensis – Liboschitz. ex Fischer & C.A.Mey.

Common Names: Chinese Foxglove, Di Huang, Sheng Di, Sheng Ti Huang, Shu Ti Huang, Ti Huang Chiu, Ti Huang

E. Asia – N. China, Korea.  Well-drained stony ground along roadsides and in woods. Mountain slopes and trailsides from near sea level to 1100 metres.Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;


Perennial growing to 0.3m by 0.25m. with reddish-violet flowers native to China, Japan and Korea.

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It is hardy to zone 9. It is in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen from May to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation details
Requires a light freely-draining humus-rich loam in light shade. Prefers a neutral to acid sandy soil. Requires a warm sunny position.  This species is probably hardy to about -25°c if the plants are dry, but the softly hairy leaves are susceptible to rot in warm damp winters and so the plants are often grown in the greenhouse. The plants are prone to fungal infections, especially when grown in damp conditions. The Chinese foxglove is cultivated as a medicinal plant in China.

Seed – sow autumn or spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Root cuttings in winter. Division in spring. Basal cuttings in late spring or early summer. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves; Root.

Leaves. No further details are given. Root – cooked. Boiled nine times before it is eaten. This suggests that the root is somewhat toxic, or at least has a very bitter flavour. Having boiled it nine times (and presumably throwing the water away each time), there is going to be very little left in the way of vitamins and minerals.


“A number of constituents such as iridoids, phenethyl alcohol, glycosides, cyclopentanoid monoterpenes, and norcarotenoids, have been reported from the fresh or processed roots of R. glutinosa.”

Rehmannia contains Vitamins A, B, C, amino acids, cerebroside, dammelittoside, melittoside, rehmaglitin and other substances that have antiinflammatory and antifungal properties. It helps prevent depletion of glycogen for hypoglycemia and helps disperse heat from the body. Its astringent compounds help stop bleeding of ulcers and reduce inflammation of the digestive system. Other compounds work to reduce capillary fragility and help protect the adrendal glands and liver function. Rehmannia tonifies the blood and helps with deficiencies, working as a blood tonic.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses
Antiseptic; Cardiac; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Haemostatic; Hypoglycaemic; Skin; Tonic.

Rehmannia glutinosa is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has the name Sheng di huang.

This plant, called Di Huang in China, is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is one of the most popular tonic herbs and is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. The root is the main part used and it can be prepared in four different ways – charcoaled, prepared (but no details of the preparation are given) when it is called Shu Di Huang and fresh or dried when it is called Sheng Di Huang. The roots are antibacterial, antiseptic, cardiac, diuretic, febrifuge, haemostatic, hypoglycaemic and tonic. They are used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments, including anaemia, cancer, bleeding, constipation, coughs, fever and premature ejaculation. The charcoaled root is used to stop bleeding and tonify the spleen and stomach. The fresh root is used to treat thirst, the rash of infectious diseases and bleeding due to pathological heat. The dried root is used to treat bleeding due to blood deficiency and to nourish the vital essence. The prepared root is used to treat dizziness and palpitations due to anaemia or blood deficiency, chronic tidal fever, night sweats, dry mouth, lumbago and nocturnal emissions. The roots of cultivated plants are harvested in the autumn or early winter, whilst wild plants are harvested in early spring.  They can be used fresh or dried. The root is an ingredient of ‘Four Things Soup’, the most widely used woman’s tonic in China. The other species used are Angelica sinensis, Ligusticum wallichii and Paeonia lactiflora. The leaves are bruised and used in the treatment of scaly eczema or psoriasis.

Rehmannia’s root is used medicinally in Oriental medicine to replenish vitality, to strengthen the liver, kidney and heart and for treatment of a variety of ailments like diabetes, constipation, anemia, urinary tract problems, dizziness and regulation of menstrual flow.

Side Effects:

Causes dizziness and heart palpitations in some people. Can cause diarrhea, loss of appetite or upset stomach.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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